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Peter Hess, Chair 2505 University Avenue, Burdine Hall 336, Mailcode C3300, Austin TX 78712-1802 • 512-471-4123

Spring 2010

GER 397P • Course Design

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
38170 T
9:30 AM-12:30 PM
BUR 234

Course Description

Course development is an essential skill for all present and future faculty members. This course provides an overview of major issues in college teaching, with an emphasis on course design, assessment and improvement. We will discuss issues related to teaching and learning through discussions, student presentations, field work, guest presentations and individual meetings with the instructor. The primary focus of this course will be the practical development of a course syllabus and several related course materials. There is a project emphasis in this course. The main objective of this course is to offer graduate students the opportunity to gain experience in creating their own content and language courses (in cultural history, literature, linguistics, applied linguistics or advanced language courses). The course should provide you with a working knowledge of designing college-level instruction, and practical experience with developing learner-centered instructional and assessment materials. Quality college teaching is demanding; your students will look to you for credible and accurate information in a structured, guided learning environment. At the same time, one of your greatest charges is to help your students become independent, life-long learners who develop the necessary skills to question, analyze, evaluate information to be able to draw their own well-grounded conclusions about various topics. Graduate students will work together in pairs, developing a course - and a significant portfolio of pertinent materials – for real or hypothetical undergraduate curricula at the college level.

Grading Policy

Since designing a course is a reflective process that requires referral to a range of sources, there will be no in-class tests of knowledge. While this decision removes anxieties associated with testing, it places an increased emphasis on the quality of the course project. The standards for evaluating this project will be quite rigorous. Grading will be based on class participation, presentations and the final course portfolio: Peer feedback & in-class participation 15% Professional Portfolio: o Needs-analysis (1 page) 5% o Original course description (1-2 pages) 5% o Annotated bibliography of relevant sources (2-4 pages) 10% o Syllabus (2 - 10 pages) 20% o Sample tests, homework and in-class assignments 25% o Class presentation (45 minutes & discussion) 15% o Philosophy of teaching statement (1-2 pages) 5% These assessment points, in detail, refer to the following documents the pairs have to produce: 1. Peer feedback for each of the sub-tasks outlined in points 2-8; active class discussions that demonstrate a clear understanding of readings and thorough preparation 2. An assessment of possible audiences for the course (e.g., level, cross-listing, focus) 3. A course description detailing the major problems to be addressed and specific learning objectives 4. An annotated bibliography of possible source materials (books, articles, visual and other non-text media, etc.) for the course, assessing their usefulness and relevance for the course 5. A syllabus, including grading guidelines and a daily schedule for one full semester 6. Sample tests, homework, and in-class assignments, as well as a brief essay justifying the methodologies, formats, and content of these documents 7. Sample lesson plans, including handouts, PowerPoint presentations, film clips, or other audiovisual materials 8. Presentation of a lesson (lecture, discussion, presentation, etc.) followed by discussion 9. Philosophy of teaching statement based on self-reflections about teaching styles and theoretical underpinnings of course design that we discuss throughout the semester At the end of the semester, each student should be familiar with the mechanics, rationale, and content of each group-designed course. The semester projects will also result in binders of full courses and accompanying materials, ready to be taught. Additionally, each student will be able to approach the job market with several full courses in their portfolio, as well as the theoretical and practical knowledge required for course design.


There are about 4-6 articles/chapters each week; these are available on the web through the course Blackboard website at


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